In Search of the Paper Trail

In Search of the Paper Trail

Organisations in the construction and utilities sectors are among those that rely the most on paper, new research has found.

A survey of 1,000 workers, conducted by WorkMobile, found that employees working in the education sector rely the most on paper (80 per cent), followed by the finance sector (68 per cent), and the construction and utilities industries (67 per cent).

A third of businesses in the education sector (34 per cent) and construction and utilities (33 per cent) have taken no steps to even reduce their usage. But, the finance industry is trying to become less reliant on paper, with 77 per cent of companies implementing paper-saving processes.

Surprisingly, the legal sector, which is often perceived as traditional in its processes, is ahead of other sectors, with four-fifths (80 per cent) of employees saying their bosses have introduced paper-less working.

The environment is paying the biggest price though, given that 50 per cent of all waste generated from businesses is paper-based. Reassuringly, some employees are trying to cut down their personal paper usage to protect the environment. 30 per cent only print out physical files when absolutely necessary, 7 per cent rarely use the printer, and 3 per cent operate fully paperless and never use paper. 

The research was carried out as part of WorkMobile’s ‘Death of the paper trail report’, which investigates the sectors that are still reliant on paper-based processes, and the pitfalls that businesses often encounter by working in this way.

Colin Yates, chief support officer, said: “With so much technology at our fingertips, it’s surprising and disappointing to see that companies are still relying so heavily on paper-based processes like printing documents and posting mail, and are not introducing the most basic of steps to reduce the use of paper.

“Over recent years, there has been a lot of focus on becoming more environmentally friendly as a society and reducing wastage to protect the planet. But despite attempts by government organisations and campaigners to raise awareness around the implications of using paper and cutting down trees, it’s clear that a large number of businesses are still not taking note. 

“Technology has advanced way beyond clunky fax machines and printing out hundreds of documents on a daily basis. And with more and more employees now working remotely using mobile devices, we shouldn’t be using so much paper. Companies must look to introduce paper-less policies to improve internal processes and make for greater efficiencies and accuracies. The future of their businesses could well depend on it.”

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